Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Stars: Mary Tsoni, Aggeliki Papouilia, Christos Stergioglou, Michele Valley, Hristos Passalis and others
Kynodontas or Dogtooth is a grotesque social drama created by Yorgos Lanthimos. In its completely bizarre and outlandish appearance, Kynodontas reveals the profound dark truths surrounding establishment and its norms regarding upbringing and lifestyle of people.
An isolated dysfunctional family consists of three children-two females and a male-all young adult (played by Aggeliki Papouilia, Mary Tsoni and Hristos Passalis respectively), a mother (played by Michelle Valley) and a father (played by Christos Stergioglou). The children have no names and they refer themselves with relationship labels. The father confines the three children in a large house and subjects them to an archetypal inhuman drill, which the children comprehend as normal due to the lack of any external exposure. The routine atypical personality development consists of utterly bizarre tasks which are met with reward coupons when the results are satisfactory. A young woman named Christine (played by Anna Kalaitzidou) is hired by the father from his factory to render to the son’s sexual instincts. Christine, with her blithe disregard tries to amuse herself with subtle exploitation of the children. Inquisitiveness seeps in their world of naked lies and falsehood. Despite the harrowing infirmities, the children are required to stay in this subservient and claustrophobic penance until they are ready for the outside world.
Yorgos Lanthimos is a master of anti-establishment films. With Kynodontas, he took dark satire to its extremities and made a profound statement. The daunting dialogue naturally thrives in the disturbing imagery of the film. The actors had a high command of their uninspiring and uncomfortable characters. There is little to no music in the film. However, Matteo Carcassi’s 7th Etude is played during what seems to be the most dramatic point of the film. This single moment beautifully personified the cerebral absurdity of the film.
Kynodontas is a deeply disturbing film that demonstrates a social oxymoron through a horrendous juxtaposition of fantasy and reality. This film is revolutionary not in terms of conveying a superior political ideology, but in its acute understanding of the flaws surrounding our ideas of well-being. The world we live in is utterly bizarre. We attach subjective meanings to objectively meaningless things and masquerade in our superficial ideals. In a bid to safeguard our future and with a vision of happiness, we drown ourselves in brutal misery. This is not just a political problem. It is a universal problem associated with existence. Kynodontas does not suggest any alternative or a methodological solution to this problem. Instead, it encourages our basking minds to ponder over it.